Response about Israel-Palestine

By Sarah Mintz and Adam Freedman

Last week, Andrew Feinberg wrote an opinion piece titled “A Comment on Israel and Palestine,” in which he wrote, “I owe my ignorance [about the Israel-Palestine conflict] to my family’s philosophy of ‘liberal’ on all issues but one. I’m sure this is the case for Jews around the country.”We find this statement to be problematic for multiple reasons. First, Feinberg’s sweeping generalization seems to imply that his own Hebrew school experience, in which the conflict was apparently not addressed or explained, is indicative of the educational experience of all American Jews. Respectfully, we would like to posit this statement as false. From our own experience alone, there are many Jewish venues and schools in America where the conflict – both the Israeli side and the Palestinian side – is openly addressed and discussed.

Second, we would like to reject Feinberg’s notion that being pro-Israel = being ignorant or uninformed. Feinberg seeks to distinguish himself from “the Israeli lobby and the uninformed grandparents of America,” claiming that through looking to non-Western sources, he was able to deal with his perception and take a stance. While we acknowledge the bias of Western media sources, we also would like to point out that non-Western sources are equally subjective to bias and political sway. Replacing one with the other will not result in a more informed perspective. It is only through looking at both sources holistically, along with educating oneself on all the historical intricacies of the conflict, that you can truly take a “viable stance.” We would like to point out that just because someone holds a “conservative” stance on Israel does not mean his or her opinion is necessarily uninformed, ignorant, nationalistic, or based exclusively in “an emotional attachment to Jewish culture.”

While we applaud Feinberg’s (along with other groups such as MacSUPER’s) beginnings of an open dialogue on campus about Israel and Palestine, we oppose his apparent conception of being pro-Israel and being pro-Palestine as mutually exclusive positions. The reductionist viewpoint in Feinberg’s article demonstrates a “good side/bad side” perspective that oversimplifies the issue and indicates the need for continued discussion on campus. It is in fact possible to support Israel’s right to exist and protect itself without necessarily supporting all of its policies toward the Palestinian territories or governmental decisions. Like Feinberg and many others on campus, we also support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and hope for peace in the Middle East. Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-Peace.

Sarah Mintz ’12 and Adam Freedman ’12 can be reached, respectively, at [email protected] and [email protected]